Building on recent efforts to dominate the better-burger segment with the help of technology, Shake Shack announced Monday that its newest New York City restaurant will be a “playground” featuring kiosk-only ordering. The new Shack at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan will be entirely cashless.
The statement follows this year’s release of a mobile ordering app, the Shack App, plus a feedback and FAQ bot on Twitter and Facebook called ShackBot. These tech additions and the development of a delivery deal with Amazon signal a clear digital direction for the New York–based chain, which boasts locations in 17 states outside New York, plus Washington, D.C.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said in a statement that delivery integration and digital innovation will continue to be focuses at the Astor Place location. He said these technological advances will help Shake Shack get to know its customers better and assist them more efficiently.
“Shake Shack is a growing, loyal, and connected community, and is more focused than ever on our guest’s experience and the tools with which our team can provide leading hospitality,” Garutti said.
In addition to collecting customer feedback, the kiosks, designed by Shake Shack, are intended to cut down on time that customers spend waiting in-store, online, or for delivery. Shake Shack team members known as “Hospitality Champs” will be stationed around the kiosks to assist customers, but all orders will go through the new system. Featuring an intuitive touch screen interface, the kiosks will communicate orders to the kitchen and alert customers by text when their burgers, fries, and shakes are complete.
Shake Shack also set the new location’s starting wage at $15 per hour to affirm its dedication to competitive wages and developing personnel from within its own Shacks.
“The Astor Place Shack represents our dedication to innovation and to providing the best for our guests and for our teams,” Garutti said.
The initiative could boost drooping sales for the chain, which recently revised its yearly outlook to project negative growth between 2 and 3 percent. Shake Shack has experienced a rollercoaster of success since going public in January 2015. Shares soared to nearly $93 that May before plummeting, then settling in the $30’s.
The Astor Place location is one of two Shacks recently opened in New York, where the brand continues to invest in its base. Big Apple Shacks have an average unit volume higher than $7 million and represent nearly half of the chain’s aggregate comp sales. Outside of New York, Shake Shack is entering the market this year in St. Louis and San Diego, and the brand is focused on expanding its foothold in Texas, Michigan, D.C., California, and more.
“The Astor Place Shack will be a playground where we can test and learn the ever-shifting needs of our guests," Garutti said. "We’re excited to lead with kiosk-only ordering, putting control of the Shake Shack experience in our guest’s hands, and an optimized kitchen with increased capacity for mobile orders and eventual delivery integration to support ongoing digital innovation."